The year is coming to an end and I have things to say.
It’s not fair that any kind of real life advancements that I may have come at the expense of my blog. I would like to change that in the coming year because time and again I’ve valued how much of a catharsis this has been right here. Always.
I miss people more than I thought I would and what hurts is that I know not when I can see them again. I am constantly seeing through the new people I meet. They’re all the same. I’ve always met them before. I don’t think I’m an introvert but the lack of interesting people around me forces me to retreat and find comfort in my thoughts.
The year is ending and I’m coming full circle. Last year at this time I was on a very different high. I was getting Freshly Pressed and attention on this blog was at an all-time high. I was moving to a country I dreamed about living in every single day for the last two years. I was swept into a life I knew I wanted and everything about my existence up to this point paled in comparison.
I got everything I desired and it wasn’t enough for me.
I spent a big part of this year realizing that my inherent reluctance towards embracing happiness in the little ways it knocks at my door is not something I can do away with. It’ll go with me like an anchor around my foot. I know not under which ocean does the key to it lie and to be honest I’m not going to dive in order to find it. Especially because I don’t know how to swim.
It’s December and I like this month and there’s snow on my blog and there are shimmery lights in the populated parts of the city I live in and I am here and I feel loved.
The year is coming to a close and I’m feeling like a soft blanket has been wrapped around me and I’m safe and ready for the year to come.
“You know what I’d like to be? I mean if I had my goddam choice?”
-J. D. Salinger, The Catcher in The Rye
I’m taking a moment out today to talk to myself and remember just how good it feels when the words on the screen appearing in short bursts and sometimes delayed clicks are mine and they’re speaking to me in my own goddam voice. It’s been a good weekend. It’s been a good two weeks, except for that one day. There’s always that one day. Lately, I’ve kept it in check and I daresay I’m probably going to reduce the recurring nature of those thoughts pretty soon.
I experienced the season of fall and it is everything they said it’d be. They? The government, of course. (The God of Small Things reference, anyone?) Life does start all over again when it gets crisp in fall. For me, it feels like coming full circle and realizing that I’m still me, I’m still happy and a year later exactly where I want to be. Substantial things are falling into my lap and I’m grateful, as grateful as I can be. Almost a year later, I see some sort of a goal I can work towards, the means to guide me there and an inherent sense of confidence that I will be able to, hell I was made to do it.
I spoke about my dream life the other day and I expressed what would be my dream job. I think about it more than usual lately. I feel like as much as I hated the idea of “attracting what you think” I am subconsciously doing just that. I have fallen into a mechanical routine. Sometimes two whole days have gone by and I don’t remember how. I don’t sleep very much but thankfully it is out of choice. My goddam choice.
The signal turns green. I cross the street. Sometimes I run. I see Larry in the morning. Larry, who helps kids and sometimes older persons to cross the street. Larry, who always has a smile on his face that I’m beginning to wonder may actually be genuine. On most mornings I see a guy at the bus stop who has the biggest e-cigarette anyone could ever possibly need which also means he blows out the biggest cloud of smoke and I can easily tell which flavour. Most often, candy. I get on the bus and we start moving. I am lucky to have all of these experiences and be so aware of them.
After all this time, I’m coming around to being me.
My tiny reader audience, it’s a special day for me today. I find my words in hard copy print at The Reverie Journal’s very first magazine. I understand there’s no need for you to rush and purchase it, but there is a free kindle copy available as well (for a limited time). In the meanwhile, I will bask in the happiness that comes from my little successes.
Here’s the link: http://thereveriejournal.com/2015/10/09/launch-day/
“Bird 1: This is the wrong story.
Bird 2: All stories are the wrong story when you are impatient.”
I laid hands on my copy of War of The Foxes through a campaign heralded by a not-for-profit printing company – Copper Canyon Press. What this meant is, I had to wait a long, long time after the book released elsewhere and for a third of the price I had donated to Copper Canyon only because I was going to get a signed copy by Richard Siken. This is all still mostly a dream for me but I stub my toes and stumble often to realize just how lucky and fortunate I truly am.
Anyone who has followed this blog long enough knows Siken’s words mean the world to me. They fall just below the title of my page. Always. The nature, appearance, title of this blog have witnessed drastic and rather dramatic changes but the tagline has not. Richard Siken’s poetry came to me the way Joan Didion’s prose did. Siken came first but I can only put it in reverse chronology for some reason.
In retrospect, I believe I took from Siken’s words a meaning and understanding different from what he intended to express. I found in War of The Foxes, wilderness and love, violent and enormous desires too difficult to contain, devotion, self-perception and imagery beyond what I could have imagined without his words.
“In the wrong light anyone can look like a darkness.”
It’s hard for me to review War of The Foxes without talking about Crush – the book of poetry that preceded it. Crush, that did exactly what the title suggested until I had to deliberately put it out of sight instead of making a big mess of myself that I couldn’t clean up. Crush, that sang to me and spoke of grief the way Didion did in The Year of Magical Thinking. Two people so different, trying to deal with death through their words.
Coming to the book, a short collection of about 47 poems that slowly and steadily creep up on you and ravage the core of your soul. I find that whatever words I may use to describe the effect Richard Siken’s words have on me I will always fall short and appear very shabby. In War of The Foxes, Siken inspects further what it is to be alive. He asks questions that we are all afraid to think about. Siken turns over all things and blurs the lines between reality, paintings, landscapes in paintings. He takes the three things I love most – words, paintings and mathematics and draws truths and fabrications and confrontations between various ‘myselves’. What I love about this book, as I did about Crush, is that Siken weaves his own language, in a way. It’s a rearrangement of words in a rhythmic pattern hard to miss. Siken makes you read his sentences the way he would read them.
“Someone has to leave first. This is a very old story. There is no other version of this story.”
So, this book made me cry on subways and local buses and in bed. So, I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about some poems but some others tore me up, chewed me and spat me out. What I mean is, they made a mess of me that I willingly stepped into and unbeknownst to me came out wobbling and shaky, afraid that I was no longer me. I came out a different me. A person who is thinking beyond the lines that separate myself, myselves, my body, my skin, my flesh from the rest of the landscape that I exist in. I find that Siken’s questions sometimes as simple as “to supply the world with what?”, “why paint a bird?” and on separate occasions increasingly complex and intimidating, “how much can you change and get away with it, before you turn into someone else, before it’s some kind of murder?” are questions you can spend years and years trying to find the answers for, and before long, lose sight of the question entirely. Years of stumbling and walking around in rooms with dark shelving with thousands of books on them and still not know what you’re searching for.
“Your body told me in a dream it’s never been afraid of anything.”
What I love and love so dearly in this book are the continuations of thought processes from Crush. The slight nods to his faithful readers that took his words and made them so popular and mainstream that it would only be completely foolish to not put them in again. I remember gasping out loud when I found one of my favourite lines from Crush suddenly being thrown smack in the middle of the book. Everyone needs a place.
Although in War of the Foxes, Siken does not add the sentence that succeeds it in Crush. Everyone needs a place. It shouldn’t be inside of someone else.
I spent many days trying to understand why that sentence had been removed. I think ‘removed’ as in withheld not erased, not deleted, not (God forbid hope not) forgotten. I returned to War of The Foxes and reread it a couple of times, only to find that every time the book had a grip on me that went from a clutch on my gut, to a squeeze on my heart, a tingling in my tear glands and before long a stranglehold around my neck. I put the book down.
A few days back, I broke down in hysterics and threw a fit that I only wish I could have had in solitude. I showed my ugly and my damaged and I believe, in that moment, Siken’s words finally came through for me.
Everyone needs a place.
There is no need for a follow up to that sentence. In the poem, War of The Foxes, the rabbit Pip tells the other rabbit Flip that they are doomed because a fox is chasing them. Flip tells him they’re not and that Pip should hide inside him. Pip hides inside him. While the fox can still see Pip, he’s not there and we all know that. You can see him, but he’s not there. And what about Flip? He’s not there, either.
“They seemed to be in New York as I was, on some indefinitely extended leave from wherever they belonged, disciplined to consider the future, temporary exiles who always knew when the flights left for New Orleans or Memphis or Richmond or, in my case, California. Someone who lives with a plane schedule in the drawer lives on a slightly different calendar. Christmas, for example, was a difficult season. Other people could take it in stride, going to Stowe or going abroad or going for the day to their mothers’ places in Connecticut; those of us who believed that we lived somewhere else would spend it making and canceling airline reservations, waiting for weatherbound flights as if for the last plane out of Lisbon in 1940, and finally comforting one another, those of us who were left, with oranges and mementos and smoked-oyster stuffings of childhood, gathering close, colonials in a far country.”
-Joan Didion, Goodbye To All That
This is the first time I’m quoting from my favourite essay by Didion. I tried my hardest to not do that here because I was afraid that this essay says a bit too much about my life right now. It explains in torturous detail what I’m thinking but not quite ready to say out loud. But that’s the funny part, I read it almost everyday. I read it while huddled in a corner of my room, trying to make sense, trying to find something in between the lines that may have slipped past me the first time, the third time, the hundred and seventy fifth time.
I think, often, about how I could be anywhere but here. And then I see that Didion thought that, too. It’s oddly comforting.
Right now, I should be doing something else. I’m actually supposed to be doing something else. I have in front of me, more than eighty-five printed papers to be memorized, a pen cum highlighter that never fails to stain my fingernails, a packet of spicy, minty potato snacks that expired last month but I keep around because I like how it smells.
At nights, I huddle up under two blankets even when it’s awfully warm. I don’t eat very much but that’s only because nothing has changed. Guilt is overpowering and dulls the senses – in my case, taste. I get asked often by people who want to know if I’m doing okay whether I have any friends. And that’s a trick question, I believe. I never cared much about friendships anyway. For me, a friend was always someone who knew, understood, told me they cared then carefully stepped back. God knows I have loved those friends more than I thought I could. I have three separate blogs written in my head and I revise them everyday while I’m on the bus. Time will come when I can be writing and submitting again as I was at this time last year. Much has changed. Yet nothing really has. I’m doing what I need to do and on some days, I’m even perfectly happy with it all.
Found a rant in my drafts. Thought it would be appropriate since my blog’s been a little quiet lately.
I call myself a writer. But in privacy. I call myself a writer but I am afraid to say it out loud. I want to give an elaborate explanation to the world that the act of arranging words into sentences – often ambiguous, seldom meaningful – is a craft. I am a writer and saying that should be simple. It’s not something I get paid for. It’s not something I’m forced to do. It’s not a full time job. It’s not a part of some religion. It’s nothing but who I am. I write, therefore I am, right?
I find that all of my writing is ingrained in a deep sense of grief, inexplicable and a continuous sorrowful feeling, tragedy and insurmountable sadness. I don’t know how to be any other way. Having had my share of depression, having had my troubles with leaving my room for days, having had all of those things you don’t talk about once they’re in the past. I still feel like sorrow lingers long after the reasons for it are reconciled with. It lurks in the corners of the smile you fake when you get asked if you’re doing okay on a completely disorienting day. It scrambles and settles inside the pockets of a jacket you wore too much but couldn’t get rid of. It reappears in the late hours of a party when you’re too tired to keep up with people and all you wish for is to leave, to have simply not been there to begin with. But that’s something for everyone every once in a while and that doesn’t make me a writer.
The stories I love most and even the books I cherish to an obsessive level are all rooted in layers of tragedy and loss. I feel like grief is so goddamn beautiful and to find words fit to describe it is an art that few possess. But for some reason, every person between 20-35 years of age in the 21st century who has access to a keyboard and knows how to type is a writer. Being a writer is the simplest thing in the world from what I’m seeing. Nothing says it better than the words “Writer” in your Instagram bio. Followed by a link to your Tumblr. Tell me it gets any easier than that and I will cry.
So I shy away from the part where I ought to be describing myself as a writer because maybe I’m not. Maybe I have urges to pen down stuff and maybe it’s my safe place and maybe as Didion once wrote that I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking about and what I fear. I battle these thoughts and I feel that self-esteem as a writer is more difficult to attain than I hoped. I envy the people who confidently dish out the part where they freelance and are able to pay monthly rent for luxurious apartments and buy extra-large coffees with bagels and other side dishes every morning. I never question my writing. But I often question the label and what it entails. I don’t know how to separate one from the other. Is there a point where you suddenly go from not being a writer to being one? For the life of me, ever since I started reading I’ve wanted to write. Ever since I realized I could write sentences I wanted longer sentences and perfect sentences and I wanted many of them, lined up one after the other. Because when I sit down to write and when I talk about my blog with someone, it’s just so much easier saying I am my writing and honestly I couldn’t elaborate even if I wanted about there being any distinction between the two.
Summer is coming to a close. Well, not the season exactly. It never really gets any cooler in my part of the world. I faintly recall it has something to do with being situated near the equator. Geography overwhelmed me very much – to be honest – not in an entirely positive sense.
I had decided that this was going to be a season of change. A few months of my life without any kind of pressure to be anywhere, have things to do, deadlines to meet, people to annoy or people to avoid. I also think it had been way too long since I last got so much time for myself and I had it all chalked out what I would do with it when it was at my disposal.
Looking back now, all those things that I intended to do with my free time mainly involved me never stepping out of my room. The idea was to limit human contact but try not to isolate myself completely as that is never a good thing and past experiences have taught great lessons that I’d rather not get into.
I think time and again I have argued with myself what type of a person I am when it comes to social interactions. I still don’t know if I’m entirely sure. The introvert-extrovert debate is really exhausting for people nowadays so they made a middle category; ambiverts. I am already an ‘ambi’ of another kind and that’s enough for me, I guess.
The days raced into weeks and the weeks transformed into fortnights and months and no surprises there, time passed. Looking back, I set out and did everything I intended to in some measure or the other. I wrote on my blog. I wrote elsewhere. I wrote for myself. I wrote a special birthday email. I read more books than I have in the past whole year. I voraciously read books on my phone, too. The desire to grasp and inhabit fictional stories was insatiable and I never felt alone. Not for a moment.
But then, as is the case with all good things, you know it can’t last forever. I recently read Audrey Niffenegger’s Her Fearful Symmetry and thought about a side-character in the book named Martin, who suffered from a severe case of OCD. He had all his windows taped with newspaper, all loose items in his house wrapped in plastic and everything set out to be in a particular way according to some inexplicable compulsive logic, as is always the case with such persons. At one point, Martin’s condition got so bad that he couldn’t step out of his house at all. He could barely stand ten minutes in front of his door before his mind mercilessly questioned his intentions of going out into the world where anything could happen to anyone. It’s funny that among all the other interesting and more important characters in the book, Martin was the one I most identified with and not because it had me thinking that I was probably suffering from anything psychological but because I knew that my summer of solitude was coming to an end. Just like Martin, I, too would be standing on that threshold of my door, wondering how I’m supposed to go out and do anything when all I needed was the safety and joy of my own company.
I began to feel that Martin wasn’t afraid of going out. He was afraid of going out and discovering that he was all alone in the way he felt. It made no sense that his wife, Marijke left him because she couldn’t deal with his habits. If he was that perturbed by her absence, Martin would’ve gone out sooner to bring back the love of his life. He did, eventually. But sometimes people do things not because they are entirely sure that’s what they want, they think that their actions will someday embody who they are and so they do those things, anyway, half-heartedly at best, against their own will.
What I’m saying is, I went out today finally. I saw trees with leaves on them and trees that provided shade on stone pavements. I saw people with faces that looked like faces and I saw the cars and buses that I hear honking all day in my room and when I looked down I saw my own two feet, walking and not missing a single step. Everything felt somewhat normal, even familiar.
A few weeks ago I wrote a short fictional piece and found that it was well-received. I was urged by more than one person to go deeper into it and give my characters some background. This may not have been what anyone expected but there’s only so much my brain can produce during everyday 4AM vigils.
It was a frosty winter morning during mid-December and it was difficult not to notice how the hostile chill in the air quite aptly described the condition of my poor, desolate heart. I got out of bed early because I like having a head-start on my daily chores. Sometimes I imagine racing against my life and emerging victorious. But these are only distractions. And I’m trying to keep myself together this morning. It’s only 9 o’ clock and I’m not ready to let my brain wander off into unsafe territories. I’m not ready. Maybe I’m too tired and I should go back to sleep instead of thinking about.. No, I cannot think about it. Think about what? Oh great, here you go.
I have a hazy memory of the first time we met. Since it’s vague I won’t share the details for fear that I’ll misinterpret my own thoughts. For fear that I’ll make up things that weren’t there. Like I’m often known to. But I’ll tell you this, we struck right away not because we had things in common or our personalities jived smoothly with each other, the only string we both held the ends of were mutual distaste and hatred for all the same things.
They say love brings people together. In our case, hatred played that key role. And right then you’d wonder what was love doing in the meanwhile? Well, love waited on the sidelines, like an all too eager menace, waiting to pounce on the weaker one among us. Love and it’s various branching definitions never brought us together, instead they insidiously did us apart.
I knew it all too well that boys who liked boys could just as easily be dead boys. I also knew that although people all over the world professed that coming out of the closet was the best way to go, it’d only do me more harm than good.
Certain countries, certain places within certain countries object to people defiling social norms in a way so demeaning that even if they grant people to come out, as they are, they make sure they pick you up and set you apart. Like the rotten apple in a basket.
What good would it do to me to tell anyone how I functioned on the inside? When you admit to people you’re gay, it’s not as though people can magically look past their insecurities and embrace you for the hardships you’ve faced along the way. I wish it were that simple.
What those success stories about teenage boys accepting their homosexuality don’t tell you is how straight boys start to fear them. Every straight boy you’ve been close to will secretly run a walkthrough in his mind trying to assess if he were one of the milestones on the road to discovery about your homosexuality. What these shallow boys also do is flatter themselves inside their heads but treat you cautiously and with a certain kind of untouchability as though if they shook hands with you, all your pressing, uncontrollable male hormones would be spilled out on a rampage. As though all straight people are deeply in love with every person of the opposite gender they encounter.
The phone rings and I’m caught off guard from my inner monologue. It’s been a year and a half since we last saw each other. The dark gray dashboard of your car and the glove compartment I stared at for the longest time while we spoke about your musical depth are imprinted on my mind with vivid clarity. It’s been a whole year and a half and now I see myself sitting there in the most uncomfortable way possible, as though I had to restrain my shoulders, square them out like my life depended on it. And my hands, I didn’t even know what to do with my hands. I remember constantly shifting them about and never being able to settle on one spot. Finally, I resorted to pressing them against my knees and watched my knuckles turn white. I watch this awkward dance playing out before my eyes as I reach out to reject your call at 9:03 AM. The time of the call matching the moment when I’m thinking about you.
You, on the other hand, were completely relaxed and in absolute control of your body. I envied that but now I realize there was no reason for you to be uncomfortable, anyway. Your heart wasn’t hammering against your chest for reasons you couldn’t understand. You weren’t expecting it to be the last time we’d sit like that. You weren’t feeling the way I did. You were in the driver’s seat and by default, in full control of everything.
I now notice myself noticing you. I watch how I occasionally divert my gaze from the glove compartment and slowly let it settle on the profile of your face. I watch all of this from somewhere above like an invisible floating presence. I don’t remember it like this. I only remember facts. Your blue t-shirt and the way it drooped a bit at the front to reveal your clavicle. I also recall how you half-smiled and smirked at the same time and how ridiculous it made you look. I remember that when you spoke you never made eye contact with me but after you were done you always looked over for my reaction. I was part of that conversation but I was also so much more that day.
I was telling myself that I was leaving after today so that you’d be happy on your own and go out and achieve what you were carved out for. I was convinced that me walking away would ensure you had space and it all seemed noble and pure, even righteous.
A year later I finally saw the truth about myself. Moving away from you was the worst best thing I could have done to myself. I’m still thinking around all these whirlwind of implications minutes after I’ve slid my finger to cancel your call. It’s an involuntary action now and I don’t have to think twice.
You’re a 20-something year old now who is making their mark and slowly climbing scales of success. I stopped interacting with you but I never stopped keeping a tab on you. I had to be sure that even though I left because of my own selfish (at the time, unknown to me) reasons, some good had to come out of it for you. I knew you had it in you and I knew if I hoped and persisted long enough the universe would guide you there. That was how much I would’ve liked to believe in you. To actually put my faith in the very universe we expressed our mutual apathy for.
I also know that you knew all along how I felt about the world and the people that lived inside it. You knew before I knew who I was on the inside and that shames me. I don’t pick up the phone to talk to you anymore because it’s easier to shoulder the hurt and sweet pangs of love when it’s unrequited for independent reasons of the heart and what it does and doesn’t want. But when your love is dictated by societal reasons that give you no right to openly acknowledge your desire without being shamed into guilt, it’s best to observe silence and hope that people like you, people who rattle the very core of my existence don’t stride into my life ever again.
“You’re my Person,” is a line I’ve said to three people in my life and meant it from the core of my being. While I can argue at length with anyone what being someone’s Person actually means I will also admit that it is obviously a borrowed idea from a TV show.
Newsflash: Nothing original about that.
The word ‘Person’ always meant something to me I couldn’t quite elucidate properly. The word in plural meant even more. Persons who knew how to use it in a sentence so as to effectively emphasize that we’re not just talking about Ordinary People always had my salute of respect. Metaphorically. We don’t salute anyone anymore nowadays.
Ultimately my concept of a Person was truly defined by a show and the way it was applied in the lives of fictional beings.
If I could ask for one wish for the betterment of everyday lives, it would be less pop culture influence on our minds and a more individualistic approach to the daily aspects of living. When I won’t be granted that one wish, I would ask for time travel to go back to the ’90s. The beautiful, ephemeral, subtle 1990s. The time when the world was on a precipice of change but not quite there yet. When pop culture was not something our lives depended on, and our face-to-face interactions comprised of inchoate words and sentences that we came up with. On our own. By thinking.
When I woke up this morning and decided to write, I paused and wondered if I was seriously doing this again. Another article to justify I’m different and very clever and a cut above the rest. But the truth is, I am not.
I’m just a nobody like everyone else searching for some kind of semblance and resemblance in a world of fiction and make-believe. I’ve realized that being your own Person is such an uphill task and we’d all rather use fiction to escape than head up that road of discovery about who we truly are.
Does it not terrify you when you meet someone new and you’re not sure if they are actually what they look and talk like? I always am. Because suddenly, we have all become sum totals of the sitcoms we devour every Friday night, the indie movies we binge-watch over the weekends and the young adult novels we bury our noses in. When did ‘you’re not alone’ somehow culminate into ‘let us all be the same’?
Ideas are borrowed from all of these media. Sometimes deliberately. Most of the time, subconsciously. We throw ourselves into these independent realms of escape hoping that we’ll come out new and refined and more knowledgeable, somehow. We come out not with new but simply borrowed, secondhand personalities.
What adds to this visceral way of life, is the kind of boost social media provides to our self-inflated egos. “What Game of Thrones Character are you? Click here to find out.” Why, of course, knowing that I have something in common with an on-screen persona would absolutely make my day. That’s not all. Maybe I should answer the quiz in a way that will ensure I’m most likely to be the Mother of Dragons. Swoon.
Then there are certain other kinds of motivators. “Ask yourself what would XYZ do?” I know more than a handful of naive people who are blind enough to worship these characters to a point that they dictate their every move. What they don’t realize is, that is the reel world. It has a definite ending which, in all likelihood, has already been thought of and anything the characters now do however morally right or wrong is only a step towards a pre-decided conclusion. Applying those things to your life (without considering these factors) is not an indication of how well you think you know and connect with the characters. Trust me, it’s far from that.
Let’s skip over to the part where we decide that reading listicles on Thought Catalog will guide us on how “How To Be A Great Girlfriend”. As ridiculous as it seems, we are all guilty of clicking on these links and mentally ticking check boxes to see how well we’re doing. The kind of validation that is expected in relationships these days simply seems to revolve around the one that social media and movies have imprinted on our minds. Suddenly, everyone’s definition of a perfect romance is a beautiful guy called Augustus Waters telling you that he loves you (in spite of your cancer, and all) and that he knows love is only a shout into the void and we will all be blown away into oblivion eventually. If someone were to profess their love to me like that I’m not sure I would be in a position to believe them. Much less hold myself back from barfing in their face.
I’m not an unhappy person. Nor am I any less of a romantic at heart, it’s just that my idea of love stems from a connection that is original and unique to the two people involved and not a by-product of a fictional story.
When I was younger I always took it upon myself to do things differently. Whether it was a simple assignment, a group effort or even a formal essay. My parents always told me that it was very easy to get swayed by the crowd and lose myself and they took it upon themselves to ingrain that in the very core of my bones. The obstacles you face along the way of being ‘different’ are never-ending. When I reached a stage where I had to adjust my personality to fit in I saw that all the lessons taught to me made no sense. I was very sharp in my mind but weak in my heart. If I did what everyone else did, if I (pretended to) enjoy what they enjoyed, it was actually somewhat of a win-win. On the surface, at least.
When you strive your hardest to be someone you’re not, you will always find yourself unhappy and I stepped out of that disguise soon enough.
While we can all fuel our addictions and interests, what I believe is that moderation is the key. When you step out of the world that is inhabited by the characters you so adore, learn to leave it behind and move on with your life. Realize that just twenty six letters of the English alphabet when arranged and rearranged into words and sentences and the permutations-combinations of writing something original are actually infinite. Maybe you won’t have to complain anymore that all good writing has already been written and done for. That statement in itself should prove how powerful originality can be and the scope of it is unbounded.
All of these facets have the usual pros and cons, two sides to every coin and every other possible adage that you can conjure. You can tell me that the pop culture influence has only brought the world closer, that it is one of the shining victories of globalization and that it unites us when we discover similar interests with another human from another part of the world, it provides fodder for a conversation and is so much better than small talk. But when you’re liked or disliked depending upon the kind of media you’re interested in, when you are basically judged because of the views you uphold about a story that is most often far from reality, when you decide that indulging in a particular activity is for the sole reason of not being left behind, whether globalization or any other heavy term, not being a Person anymore is not a price I’m willing to pay.
Making an attempt to write short fiction things. This is sloppy writing at its best and I don’t know where I drew the courage from to post this on my blog. Groan.
“I’m being optimistic here,” you said. I looked into your eyes trying to ascertain if you meant those words. I swallowed hard and said, “The world is often ruined by your optimism.”
You didn’t listen to me then.
I remember when we had only time on our hands and endless evenings to roam the streets and pay for those cigarettes you could never get enough of. I recall with vivid clarity the names of all the songs that you liked and I told you that maybe you should try your hand at music.
The first time I decided you were going to be more than just a regular friend, I knew it was going to be a wrestling match. You were always proud of not being attached to anyone. I said to you, “You’re almost my best friend now.” There was only a half-smile and a slight nod from you.
You came to me for advice about things that I wasn’t particularly good at. How to get rid of a debt, how to not let nicotine show up on a blood test, how to hold back from calling up your old flames. I was never of much help to you and I was always confused why you came to me.
There comes a time in your life when you question if being with someone, platonically or otherwise, is more of a habit or if it’s really, truly a connection you formed over the years. Maybe you get up the next morning, you bring yourself to call them and their voice on the other end reaffirms those nagging worries. Maybe you are scared and you never call.
“I’m learning to play the piano,” you said to me, while I was seated in the front seat of your new secondhand car. After all of these years, you tried to tell me in that one sentence that I was right. You tried your hardest to elicit that I always understood you and you finally understood that.
We spent a half hour discussing what your future career in music would look like and I joked about you losing interest in it within a few weeks. Just like everything else. The expression on your face, the way your hands clenched the steering wheel when I chided you, that’s when I knew that you were going to see this through. That’s when I knew you didn’t need me anymore. I thought it best not to break it to you at the time but that’s when I knew it would be the last time I’d ever meet you.
I’ve been trying to understand so many things in my life lately. I’ve been cleaning, throwing out, recycling and constantly refreshing my space as if that’s going to give me a new, enriching life. A turnaround of sorts.
I don’t think people even realize change is important and how change alters and refines your perspective. I don’t know if it’s all right to feel a certain way but at least now I’m sure about how I feel. I’m sure that I can actually feel something in the first place.
I’ve been writing and backspacing and I’m mostly never sure about what I intended to say initially. The haphazard and mish-mash of punctuated words, opalescent thoughts trying to look very charming and eloquent, all those qualities that are rare and that the world just has to notice and appreciate. That is not me so I will erase and write what I really feel.
I’ve reached a point where I no longer self-loath. I do not aspire to be what I’m not. I’m just content and loved and that is enough. I’m no longer ambitious or even afraid about the fact that I’m not. I’m still driven by my desire to do a lot of things and be someone good but it’s not the only thing in my world and that’s perfectly okay.
I wish I could make these words spilling out of me look as pretty as the person I love. Or sound like the voice of the person I love. These are things my words can’t do but I always try. I tried when I was heartbroken and sad to provide comfort to others like me. Now that I’m happy, I’m always shy and worried about expressing it. Why should I? Why the constant guilt about being overjoyed? These are the things my summer thoughts are made of. I’m not going out very much but I don’t have to, my mind is already in far-off lands brewing tales and experiencing things which only a strong imagination can conjure and bring to life.
The days are warm and hazy. My air is filled with love. If the weather and my heart were the only things that mattered I would say my life is almost perfect and that I’ve never desired more than that.
I didn’t think that this blog would end up like a diary entry. I didn’t even know what I wanted to write about when I started. I was filling a void in my morning, trying my best to fill that space which belonged to a person, with words. But as you can see, my distractions only last a few paragraphs before I start writing about you again.
Being a Follower is about being submissive. Never forget that.
I will admit it outright, I am the person who secretly craves friendships I will never have. I seek a bond intensely real, requiring no words to elaborate and thereby tarnish the beauty of that camaraderie. With the way my life unfolds it is almost unattainable. I am a person who prefers solitude over companionship. Yet, the longing to be able to share a platonic relationship with another person goes much deeper than I ever let on…
This originally appeared on Medium. Click here to read further.
“When you come back
from going crazy
the return trip
is twice as far
and the world
you come back to
I remember back in 2010 a string of few months where everything went wrong. I remember not having a glimmer of hope and thinking that I would never get out of that. I also recall telling myself I would never feel so awful again. I took a mental snapshot of my state of mind and saved it in the archives for future resurrections, hoping and praying I wouldn’t need to.
Jump to four years later and give or take a few months, because I can’t remember the exact month. Because I didn’t want to remember. Because I tried so hard to forget.
This last week has been quite tidal. Actions have consequences and I suppose if by now I have not learnt to think before I leap, it’s probably too late. I’m afraid I have been reflecting over the previous year far too much. A friend congratulated me recently over a certain academic achievement and told me that 2014 is the year for me. Why I smirked and refused to accept that, most people will never know.
Another close friend experienced a very grave loss and I felt like I wasn’t able to comfort her quite right. The only thing that I have, my words, they aren’t coming out right. My words feel like strangers to me. You could say I’m beginning to feel incompetent in more than one way.
If you make decisions without considering the core aspect of your life, chances are you won’t be allowed to get anywhere. I like pushing unnecessary worries to the back of my mind. The rest of my head feels like a safe zone and I can comfortably get on with my day. Until the night comes.
“If you do not breathe through writing, if you do not cry out in writing, or sing in writing, then don’t write, because our culture has no use for it.”
Hello to the few souls who actually care and come here time and again to read what I’ve been cataloging. So it may come as a surprise when I say I’ve been experiencing a little bit of the writer’s block lately. I didn’t know if it’s possible to be completely blank when you tried to write but guess what, it is. From what I’ve understood, it doesn’t necessarily have to do with lack of ideas. It’s never the lack of it actually. You can’t not think. It’s an ongoing process and even when you aren’t entirely aware of your thoughts, you are thinking. Like you are right now, even though you believe you are only concentrating on reading this. You are invariably thinking about a hundred different things but your mind is trying to blur them and focus on one.
That moment when you decide that you want to write and the words are all there in your mind in well-framed sentences but you just can’t write. This usually stems from something you’re just not ready to accept. I wasn’t too sure why I was feeling that way until it all came rushing out in a conversation with my person. I vented it all out to him and he just patiently listened, like he always does.
He and I have always been on the same page about most things but he did go ahead to say that unlike him I don’t sell my soul for views. Breaking it down, I don’t have any desire to garner views for which I need go to inexorable heights and write about the pop-culture scene. Don’t get me wrong I love pop-culture. Oh I thrive on it! I think anyone who says that they haven’t ever been thrilled to read about pop-culture on the blogs that they follow is lying through their teeth.
But there comes a point where you start to wonder is that really what writing comes down to? Do you only sit in front of your computer and type because you want random souls to stumble on your blog? Not to mention, a blog that is popular only because of pop-culture and not because of your stupendous wit. Oh that should hurt. Views v/s content. Do they really have any kind of significant mathematical relationship? I would say inversely proportional but that would mean stigmatizing every blog that likes to delve into pop-culture once in a while. That would mean bashing up my all-time favourite blog, Thought Catalog.
There are many writers who write because they feel it’s some kind of obligation to the blogging world. They look at their blog and decide, oh it’s been ten days and it’s time for me to churn out a new post. Then there are those who make sure that they keep their audience hooked and produce post after post with such fervour, you are tempted to unfollow them. They clog up your news feed and also make you feel ridiculous about how rarely you post anything. There are some bloggers who only blog when something bothers the hell out of them. Of course, grief, anger, disappointment and any kind of displeasure is rarely ever felt as deeply as wait, what do you call it, love? So yes, they feel they must add to the misery of this world and blog only when they’re sad. Sorry fellas, my heart goes out to you and everything but I honestly am in a very happy place right now to care about your pain. I understand bloggers who search for inspiration and like reviewing things (all the time? Umm…), deep down we all know we do that for views. Hell, I would be a hypocrite if I said that the movie reviews I had written were just for my eyes alone. But then again fight on me on this, I wrote them for the few respectable followers that I have, hoping they’d read it and watch the movies that I hold close to my heart. Can’t argue with me on that, can you?
I have nothing against people who publicize things. I think it forms a major part of why you write. But it shouldn’t be the only motivation. When you measure your blog by the number of views it has received in the last 48 hours, I wonder what kind of mentality you live by. If that’s the case, I should be ecstatic because just the other day a random blogger liked all of my articles in a time span of less than two minutes. What’s amusing here is, he didn’t read a single one of them. How do I know that, you ask? That’s because my blog gets views that I can count on my hands. I hadn’t got a single view on any of the posts he bothered to like. Good going Sir! I’m not going to be flattered and curious and visit your blog so your blog hits counter goes up. Seriously, the joke’s on you, dear Sir. With publicity like that, well I do have a problem. Quick tip: Don’t insult another blogger by liking something you haven’t bothered to read but liked based on the face-value.
A few months ago, I was chatting with an American freelance writer (works for Thought Catalog, OH MY GOD!) on a social networking site. I must admit he was quite chatty for someone who should apparently be really busy. He spoke to me at length about what he thought about his writing and what it has become now. The only part of that conversation that struck out was when he told me that what I write right now, at the age of 19 is ‘shit’. He said that I’m supposed to be going out and experiencing things and experiencing people, living the life. I shouldn’t be holed up in my room, typing away at a blank screen. He also went on to say that when he was 19, he couldn’t write well and did a miserable job every time he tried. I found that hard to believe and when I go back and read the stuff he’s written I still can’t imagine a world where he didn’t write well. Then again, aren’t we our own worst critic nightmare.
When it comes to taking advice of someone you look up to, I don’t know how much of it I should consider. Hell, when I’m old and shrivelled, I would love to go back and read things I had written when I was 19. No matter how terrible and stupid they might seem to me then. I know for a fact that writing has lead me to a life I could never have imagined.
I have not known a life where I didn’t feel the need to write and keep a record of things I felt. I am not okay with the ephemeral nature of time. I can’t let moments that matter slip away and have only my memory to fall back on to, to recall them. If I ever plan on living my life backwards, I’ll know how to go about it. I’ll be able to go back to every high point in my life through my writings. I’m being selfish here because I’m writing for the future me. So tell me now, is it really that important to get ‘views’ for something that only I care about?